The 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour in 1918, WWI fighting stopped between Allied forces and their German counterparts. Though it would take nearly seven months to complete the signing of the treaty of Versailles, the war effectively ended that November day and so it is on that day we as Americans celebrate our Veterans.
Be it a parent, sibling, friend or colleague – we all know someone who has served our country in the military. Today is yet another opportunity to honor and thank those individuals. Those individuals who put their own lives at risk, and on hold to protect and serve their fellow citizens, their rights, the very idea this country was founded on.
Veterans Day is the day we as Americans honor and thank those who have served in the military in any capacity. This is different from Memorial Day where we honor those who have served and fallen. Although equally important, today offers Americans something Memorial Day does not: the opportunity to say the things and show the gratitude to those individuals we honor while they still remain in our lives.
Veteran’s returning from “The Great War” or “The War to end all Wars” were greeted, and treated like the heroes they truly were. The same can be said of WWII veterans, who today are referred to as “America’s Greatest Generation.” Who can forget the iconic image of the sailor kissing the nurse in New York City? There were parades in all major cities and welcome home gatherings in each small town with a returning veteran. We all knew the stakes, and perhaps we all celebrated those returning with such fervor because so many did not.
Somehow as we went from WWII to The Korean War then on to the War in Vietnam, a war that both defined and divided a generation, our reverence and perception of soldiers changed. Many of those Vietnam veterans still do not get their due for being brave enough to go half-way around the world and fight a jungle war without being asked, rather told via the draft. Those soldiers deserve better, and after decades have passed, it’s time they got it.
The Gulf War and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created new generations of veterans to remember and honor. There will be the presidential wreath laying at the tomb of the unknown soldiers, state and local remembrances at war memorials – not to mention several restaurants, bars, coffee shops and the like are offering deals today to veterans in honor of their service, a laudable thing to do.
However, perhaps the best thing you as an individual can do for a veteran is offer them a sincere “Thank You.” Recognition that their service and loss of fellow soldiers was not in vain, and that the average American understands that. So if you know a veteran, give them a call or go and see them today. And if you happen to see man or woman in uniform today, take the time to show your gratitude, say “Thanks.” After all, that’s what today is all about.
Ross Willkom is a new member of the Capstone team. He is a 2006 graduate of Indiana University with a degree in political science and now works as CEO John Rogers’ Executive Assistant.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.